The path to Rutgers’ first Big Ten victory of the season is one you might have expected — unorthodox.
Rutgers had three quarterbacks make an impact on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. The Scarlet Knights got the ball back trailing 14-10 with 4:20 left in the third quarter. On a third-and-nine from its own 13-yard line, Noah Vedral hit Johnny Langan for a 27-yard connection to keep the drive alive.
Exactly eight plays later, Gavin Wimsatt made his Rutgers debut and did it in a big way. Wimsatt completed a 13-yard pass to Bo Melton on fourth-and-five. The drive would be capped by a Noah Vedral touchdown run.
This put the Scarlet Knights on top and they did not look back on their way to a 20-14 victory over Illinois on Saturday afternoon in Champaign.
We learned a few things in this game. First, Kyle Monangai should see some more work. He began the scoring with a seven-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Monangai finished with 77 yards and a score on 15 carries.
Another thing we learned, Rutgers needed to adjust defensively to stop giving up big plays.
Brandon Peters hit Isaiah Williams for a 52-yard score to get Illinois on the board early in the second quarter. Before halftime, Peters would throw his second touchdown of the game. This time, a 26-yarder to Daniel Barker.
This would be all of the scoring for the Illini.
Rutgers kept Illinois off the scoreboard in the second half and added 10 points of its own to get in the win column in the Big Ten.
Rutgers saw three quarterbacks complete a pass today. Vedral finished 10-for-21 for 138 yards but was knocked around all afternoon. He was relieved by Cole Snyder for three drives in the first half and he completed two passes for seven yards.
Isaih Pacheco led Rutgers on the ground with 91 yards on 21 carries. This is the type of production the Scarlet Knights have been looking for in the backfield and they got it from two different rushers.
A win is a win in the Big Ten. This should be a confidence boost for a unit that was looking for any piece of positivity to put together. This was a win that saves the season for the Scarlet Knights as they are able to get back to .500.
Revenge game, survival game, ugly game. Call it whatever you want but Rutgers can finally enjoy a week after a victory.